COLUMBIA - A federal judge has ruled that a South Carolina ban on automated political phone calls is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs made that ruling in an order signed earlier this month, The State newspaper reported Tuesday.
The ruling is part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by Robert Cahaly. The political consultant was arrested in 2010 after robocalls comparing one female Democratic statehouse candidate to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were traced to him.
One call asked listeners if a Democratic candidate should invite Pelosi to campaign with her, prompting the listener to answer yes or no by using the telephone key pad.
After the charges were dismissed, Cahaly filed a lawsuit claiming that his constitutional right to free speech had been violated.
Childs said state law unfairly singles out political speech, noting the state attorney general previously had interpreted the law to allow political robocalls as long as they are delivered to an answering machine or conducted a survey.
In a statement, Cahaly called the ruling "a win for the Constitution and most especially the Bill of Rights."